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The Art of "Ori Alu"

I named this revolutionary aluminum folding technique "Ori-Alu", borrowing "Ori" (folding) from the Japanese language and "Alu" from aluminum, and applied it to creating recycled art pieces (Eco Art).


It is easy to craft a sculpture directly from a flat virgin aluminum sheet, but I insist that every Ori-Alu sculpture be made from empty aluminum cans as promoting environmental protection messages is my vision for Ori-Alu. The recycling process does not involve extra energy source. I cut a soda can by a pair of scissors powered not by electricity by my pair of hands. I also insist that no additional color should be painted on the sculpture. The color appears on the sculpture is the original color of the can. The choice of color and pattern for sculpture adds to the magnitude of Ori-Alu's challenge and value to the finished sculpture at the same time.


Like traditional origami art, Ori-Alu prohibits the use of glue, screw, and welding throughout the whole sculpturing process. Folding and mortise skill alone enables me to create any 3-D sculpture that can stand on Its own without the need of external support.

My signature work, CANBOT, is a 3.5-cm tall aluminum robot sculpture finished with more than 150 folds. It represents my passion in Ori-Alu and recycled arts, and most important of all, it is an icon of environmental protection and represents my humble contribution to earth we live.

The word CANBOT is a combination of CAN and BOT. Obviously the latter part "BOT" is extracted from the word robot while the front part CAN denotes that the sculpture is made from an empty can. I want the word to carry a deeper meaning — CAN DO. It is my believe that everything is possible if we have firm determination, do not easily give up and take failure as a stimulus to usher us to move fact, the term CANBOT summarized my years of effort in the pursuit of a new art form deviated from the traditional paper folding and the sculpture is the symbol of this CAN DO spirit and belief.


Every Canbot sculpture represents my creative idea. From design, matching colors and patterns to the final products. I completed every single step of the production process with my own pair of hands.


Currently there are three thematic series of Canbots, namely Canrex (dinosaurs) symbolizing the history of mankind, Panda-Alu symbolizing the endangered creatures, and Canbot (robot) symbolizing mankind's future technology development, together they us human beings to treasure resources on planet Earth.

- Orson Li



Artist Orson Li

My effort was first recognised in 2008 when an email from a designer in Finland landed on my website,, asking to buy one of the Items displayed on the site. The request clearly indicated that someone was interested in my work and more importantly sharing my belief in environmental protection.


The unique technique in the making of Canbot and the environmental protection concept behind the sculptures soon caught the attention and admiration of the American design and arts communities too. In the United States, people are very concerned about protecting the environment. "Recycled Art" and handmade art are often employed to heighten peopled awareness of handicraft art and environmental protection.


In 2009, the Cameron Art Museum in North Carolina, USA, invited me to display my works there. Subsequently, in Asia, Korean and Japanese design magazines widely reported on the unique Ori-Alu skills employed in making Canbots. When Canbot made its debut in Japan, the meticulous skills had impressed many designers.


In 2010, Canbot was given a chance to shine in his birthplace. Hong Kong Trade Development Council invited me to bring back from overseas all Canbot series for exhibition in Hong Kong. As I had created the success of with my own hands and innovative ideas, it is 100 per cent "made in Hong Kong* and the Council wanted me, through promoting the success story and concept of Canbot, to encourage young people not to underestimate their own power.


As a responsible citizen of Hong Kong and an inhabitant on the planet Earth, I will never turn down any requests to promote the Can-Do spirit to my fellow citizens in Hong Kong as well as fellow inhabitants elsewhere.


In 2010 and 2011, Canbot was put on display at the Design Gallery at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, the Education & Careers Expo and Asia World Expo. The art of "Ori-Alu" and the concept behind it had had a great impact on people who came to view the exhibition. The Ori-Alu technique also inspired designers and artists of all ages who visited the exhibition with creative inspirations as well as the real meaning of life.


In addition to these exhibitions, I promote Ori-Alu and Can-Do spirit and belief to young people by way of co-organizing exhibitions in shopping malls in various part of Hong Kong, presenting talks to young people, and giving interviews to the media The leading English daily in Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post, invited me for an interview and published it as a cover story of the Young Post.


In 2012, I was invited to display the Canbot in Beijing and Shanghai, exhibition tour across different provinces in China have been scheduled in 2013. In the coming years, Canbot Animation project will be in progress to bring the environmental protection message to audience of all levels around the world.






My passion in origami has driven me to explore ways to preserve my finished products. After years of research and practice, I began my first trial in 2003 to substitute aluminum for paper. Aluminum has more good qualities than a paper can offer.


In addition to being soft and foldable, aluminum does not rust and can withstand moisture and humidity.



Origami, the traditional Japanese art to transform a sheet of paper into a paper sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques, has been my hobby since I was a young boy. The most fascinating element of Origami is I could create complex objects from a simple sheet of paper by just folding and cutting it. The origami arts' demand of the folder to build a 3-D sculpture with paper by cuts and folds without glue was indeed a great challenge to my young mind.


As I grew older and older, I became more and more appreciative of Origami as I realized that it required more than just cutting and folding skills. A detailed planning process involving geometry and mathematic plus creativeness is the key to successful cutting and folding. Origami is where a folder's imagination has no bound.

The word Origami comes from *Ori" meaning "folding", and "Gami" meaning "paper". This dearest hobby of mine brought me much pleasure and admiration from my friends and classmates of both sexes, parents and teachers.


Yet it also brought frustration because no matter how great the finished sculpture was, it could not last long. With the passage of time, the color of the papers faded, and the forms and shapes distorted due to moisture and humidity.

Sculpture of


As the cut and fold skills with aluminum are different from paper, I researched seriously into the types of aluminum and their properties; and practised the cut and fold skills with different types of aluminum.


Eventually, in 2006 I succeeded in pioneering a completely new technique by blending Japanese origami skills and the traditional Chinese mortise skills with aluminum recycled from empty aluminum cans to build 3-dimension sculptures. All my art pieces are originated from the shape of triangular prism that provide sturdy support and resemble the logo of recycle.


Art Cycle Group

Hong Kong

Tel: +852 5669 1210

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